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Snowpiercer: Leaving Subtlety at the Station

Updated on August 8, 2014

The Plot

Global warming has gotten out of hand and mankind has taken it upon itself to reverse it by releasing a chemical into the atmosphere that acts as a cooling agent. The effects go from beneficial to extreme, ushering in what is the next ice age. The climate is unsuitable for human life, and an entire ecosystem and society is built into a new era of technological advancement in the form of a train powered by an eternal engine. There is the front of the train, which is comprised of the "Haves," and the back of the train which is the poorest of the poor. Those from the tail of the train are abused and treated as animals, sparking an uprising lead by Curtis (Chris Evans) to overtake the train and end the division of the people.

What We Got

I had only seen one trailer going into the film, not entirely knowing what to expect. The "undertones" of commentary on class warfare and separation go old pretty quick as the point is driven home on several, several occasions. I found myself wondering why those in the front of the train needed those in the tail if there were constantly issues with them. When I say they are poor, I mean think of the worst off person you have ever seen, and they take them down a peg or two. These people have nothing but scraps of scraps. Tattered clothing, necessitated resourcefulness, the whole nine yards. I found myself saying to myself, "why do they even keep them around?" They don't serve any function as it is not made apparent that any of them perform any tasks that keep the train functional, and it is more than apparent that they are despised by all. So again, I ask why? And to answer that without revealing anything, I can honestly say there is almost no reason whatsoever to keep them around, especially in that many numbers. This was the biggest plot hole that I could not help by address.

Aside from that tear on their necessity to the survival of the human train race, this was a pretty entertaining watch. I warn you, if you do not have the subtitles turned on, you are going to have a very bad time. There is a translator in use for part of some nonessential dialogue, but at a critical point, a monologue is not translated and is reliant upon subtitles. If you have the function, use them. Otherwise you will feel like you are missing out on a lot. You can get the gist through context clues and reactions of other characters, but that is more work than is needed.

There was a significant amount of fight scenes in the film, giving it the feel of a kung fu movie at times. At that, it was very well choreographed and visually appealing. As the group journeys to the front of the train, they pass through several cars of varying uses. Each one serves its own purpose and is interesting to see what amenities are preserved on the train, giving it a futuristic tinge when needed, and some reminiscent of cars you would see in first class at the dawn of the railroad.

The visuals in the film were outstandingly executed, the dialogue was believable, and the casting couldn't have been better. This was an entertaining watch that I would recommend to any fan of the science fiction or dystopian genre.

Class Commentary

As I mentioned before, the philosophical basis of the film was the "haves" versus the "have nots." When it came up in the dialogue time and time again, even those not paying attention to the film understand what the message is: money is evil and so are those who have it. There wasn't anything to the message in this film that I, or many others, haven't seen before. The message is the same in every film that is the fruit of the same conceptual tree, and this one does not break the mold. I acknowledge that this is a very simplified version of a very complex idea. Entire political philosophies are based on this idea, albeit more eloquently phrased and elaborated on than I shall attempt in this review. The film demonstrated only the worst of those who were privileged, as if moral corruption is unavoidable for those who are "in the front." I understand that for this plot to even exist, the rich had to loathe and abuse the poor, but when a message about the modern class system is being delivered to the masses, generalizations just do not suffice. There was not a single member of the "tail" who demonstrated reprehensible qualities, and not a single member of the "front" who showed any sort of decency or morality. Just as the portions of the train they reside in, the film was filled with extremes.


Moving on from what the film did include, i want to point out the startling lack of the middle class. There were a few individuals who COULD have fit the bill of a middle class individual, but overall, it was absent. This plays into the extremes of the members of the classes again. Characters were either the poorest of the poor or lived lavishly. There could have, at one point on the train, been a middle class that merely dissolved over time into the poor, and the rich that do with them what they see fit.

From the perspective of the film, you are on the side of those from the "tail," regardless of how you view the socioeconomic message being portrayed. Overall, the message delivered by the film was that the rich are to be reviled, while the struggle of the poor is to be romanticized.

All In All

All in all this was a good film. I had read other sources calling this the next cult classic. That is a statement I have to disagree with. While I enjoyed the film, I do not think I will find myself watching it again. There is nothing new to take away from a second viewing. There is no new interpretation. It is its message and it is and nothing more. However, I find myself wondering what the same film, or even some sort of prequel, would look like from the perspective of the rich. That perspective switch could offer some interesting insights into the same socioeconomic philosophy, while showing how the "other half" became, and why the divide is so large. This likely will never happen, but its an interesting thought to entertain.

Snowpiercer Trailer

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    • The Silver Stream profile image
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      The Silver Stream 3 years ago from Fort Worth, TX

      *agree

    • The Silver Stream profile image
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      The Silver Stream 3 years ago from Fort Worth, TX

      I completely after with you. The circumstances were entirely pivotal for the plot. And the action sequences were very entertaining. There wasn't a single dull moment. If they could recapture the uniqueness of the world they created in this, I would love to see any sort of sequel/prequel. Great movie and well directed.

    • charliecrews38 profile image

      charliecrews38 3 years ago from Melbourne, Australia

      hey, thanks for the review, I wasn't expecting any social commentary going into this film, I was just expecting to see a unique, action-packed post-apocalyptic genre film, this is just the circumstances they happen to be in and the class divide seemingly has a purpose which I will not spoil here, the premise ultimately allows for some great action sequences, imagery and a lot of forward momentum, also I reckon they're might have been some middle class people in the train somewhere, we just didn't see them much, anyway, I enjoyed the film and would recommend it to people looking for something unique and different and who enjoy action-scifi-thriller type movies, there's also a korean monster movie called the host which is great by the same director